Recently, DJ and underground music impresario Robert Disaro declared the death of slowed up music. Bold words, considering he himself has serious ties to Houston, a city where the legacy of DJ Screw is a lifestyle choice and not a trend. To further the confusion, Disaro’s eponymous label was instrumental in breaking the dark drag of Witch House and the man just concluded a summer tour laden with more Gothic trappings than a Crow Convention. Perhaps the 2011 Upside Down Cross Deuces Tour was his fond farewell before embarking on his next journey, or maybe he just feels that as a pioneer of the sound he has the right to decide when it ends. Whatever the case, it is obvious that he didn’t hold a coven council meeting, because it seems like slowed up sounds aren’t really going anywhere.
One artist that didn’t get the memo is Denver based Strange Powers. Earlier this year, Powers impressed many with the Mmmmmmmm EP he released on AMDISCS. His new EP on Tundra Dubs, Genetisis actually turns up the Screw, by fusing Strange Powers’ pernicious synth with an ample amount of promethazine pitched hip hop samples. Tracks like “After the Gold Rush” sweat an odd mixture of absinthe and codeine, as industrial sounds are assaulted by some of the most minimal post-Screw that has ever been recorded. As I mentioned in my first article about Strange Powers, he is no stranger to the boom bip, and developed his sound making his bones on the underground hip hop scene.
Tennessee’s Party Trash is another artist that will never let the spirit of Robert Davis Jr. die. Although he dabbles in a wide range of music, from IDM to drone, his roots are always apparent. Last month, he and I released an EP as Thoed Myndez based almost entirely on loops and samples snatched from original gray tapes. Just about everything Party Trash touches has the indelible tattoo of Screw all over it. He also just released a crucial Halloween mixtape (a collaboration with fellow Tennesse producer fr<>ze,) featuring original beats and rhymes from a handful of their closest friends, including SortaHuman, Noah23 and Blam Lord.
So what’s the damn deal? Why all the fatalism in a goofy little internet music scene? The answer lies in the artists themselves. Big ticket artists on the small scene have seemingly tired of their old sounds. Replacing lo fi bit rates with a more polished version of sinister bass and a vibe borrowed from early 90’s rave and modern dubstep. It is true that this rebirth of cruel seems to be getting a little slicker this year. Additionally, too many factions within the insulated community seem to be clamoring to declare their own take on it as the heir apparent to the house that a few small batch CD-Rs built. As the music becomes more diverse and faceted, there are always new artists looking to repeat the triumphs (or tragedies) of earlier artists that released through seminal labels like Disaro. Whatever your class in RPG Funk: Rock on, Rave on or Sail on. It is diversification that leads to progress, this has always been the power of chaos and mutation.
There’s room on this Masada for all to jump.- Nattymari